managing anxiety

7 Tips for Managing Anxiety in Addiction Recovery

Anxiety disorders are the most common class of mental health issues. About 30 percent of Americans will have issues with anxiety at some point in their lives. What’s more, anxiety significantly increases your risk of developing a substance use disorder. The National Epidemiological Survey on Alcohol and Related Conditions interviewed more than 43,000 people and found that among people who had struggled with anxiety in the past year, 15 percent met the criteria for having a substance use disorder—about twice the prevalence in the general population. Part of a strong recovery from addiction entails making healthy lifestyle changes to manage anxiety overall and learning to cope with individual episodes. Here are some suggestions for managing anxiety in addiction recovery.

 

See a Therapist

First, if you have issues with anxiety and you haven’t seen a therapist, see one as soon as possible. An anxiety disorder is a serious mental health issue, sometimes with a biological basis, and you should take it seriously. It’s not just a matter of telling yourself to calm down; there are other issues driving your anxiety. A therapist can help you work through it, perhaps with the help of medication.

 

Breathe deeply.

Deep breathing is one of the most effective tools there is for calming anxiety. When you’re anxious, your body’s sympathetic nervous system, the fight-or-flight system, is in control. You feel threatened—perhaps by something that’s not really threatening or perhaps by nothing at all—and your body prepares to deal with that threat. But since anxiety can feed on itself, the sympathetic nervous system never backs off. To do that, you have to intentionally activate your parasympathetic nervous system, otherwise known as your rest-and-digest system. 

 

You can activate your parasympathetic nervous system by taking a few slow, deep breaths. The exhale is especially important, since this is what stimulates the vagus nerve and helps you calm down. When you feel stressed, panicked, or overwhelmed, take a few deep breaths. A common pattern is to inhale for a count of four, hold for a count of seven, exhale for a count of eight, and repeat. Five or 10 breaths should help you calm down and think more clearly.

 

Examine Your Thinking

Most anxiety comes not from any particular situation but from your thinking about the situation. Sometimes the brain can conjure up anxiety from nothing at all. When you’re anxious, it helps to notice what thoughts are causing the anxiety. Cognitive behavioral therapy, or CBT, has identified a number of common cognitive distortions that cause mental distress. These include black-and-white thinking, catastrophizing, discounting the positive, and others. You typically learn about these distortions and how to combat them as part of addiction treatment or individual therapy. Learning to spot these distortions takes a bit of practice and guidance but will significantly cut down on your anxiety once you get the hang of it.

 

Get Enough Sleep

Getting enough quality sleep is one of the best things you can do for your mental and physical health. Inadequate sleep has been linked to a number of mental health issues, including depression and anxiety. When you are sleep deprived, or when you run a chronic sleep deficit, you significantly impair several important cognitive functions, including attention, working memory, foresight, and prioritization. Perhaps the biggest problem for anxiety is that lack of sleep also impairs emotional regulation. There is an area of the prefrontal cortex that essentially acts as a brake on anxiety and when you don’t get enough sleep, that brake doesn’t work very well. Getting enough sleep makes everything in life easier.

 

Exercise

After getting enough sleep, regular exercise is the second biggest lifestyle change you can make to manage anxiety. Many scientific studies now support exercise’s many mental health benefits, including reducing anxiety. Exercise does a number of things, including increasing the brain’s levels of endorphins, serotonin, and brain-derived neurotrophic factor, which helps grow neurons in certain areas of the brain. It is also thought that exercise affects the brain’s hypothalamic-pituitary-adrenal, or HPA, axis, which reduces your reactivity to stress.  

 

Practice Mindfulness

Mindfulness meditation is one of the best ways to learn to manage your anxiety. Most people reflexively try to push anxiety away, ignore it, or stifle it, but these only make it worse. Mindfulness teaches you to accept anxiety and not compound it by being anxious about it. Instead, you observe your anxiety without judgment, noticing where it comes from, what thoughts arise with it, where you feel it in your body and so on. You gradually learn that anxiety is nothing to be afraid of. 

 

Reduce Your Caffeine Intake

For most people recovering from addiction, moderate caffeine intake is not a big deal. If that caffeine is in the form of tea or coffee rather than sugary energy drinks, it may even have some moderate benefits. However, if you are prone to anxiety, caffeine may raise your baseline of stress. Caffeine’s effects are similar to those of anxiety—faster heart rate, increased energy and focus, and so on. It can make you more sensitive to stress or even trigger an anxiety feedback loop. Perhaps more importantly, caffeine can interfere with sleep. Even a cup of coffee at noon may leave quite a bit of caffeine in your system at bedtime. It can either keep you up or prevent you from sleeping deeply. This is especially problematic since many people already experience insomnia early in recovery. And as noted above, a chronic sleep deficit can significantly increase your anxiety.

 

Anxiety isn’t just a matter of being on edge or tightly wound. You can’t “just relax.” It’s a real mental health issue that typically requires professional help. You normally get treatment for co-occurring conditions, such as anxiety, when you enter an addiction treatment program, but not if you only attend mutual-aid meetings like AA. However, an untreated anxiety disorder can make recovery far more difficult, since it’s often the anxiety that caused the substance use issue in the first place. 

 

At Enlightened Solutions, we know that recovering from addiction requires healing the whole person. Our holistic treatment program incorporates modern treatment methods, wellness practices, and modalities such as yoga and meditation to help our clients overcome addiction. To learn more, call us today at 833-801-LIVE.


How Binaural Beats Can Make a Difference in Mental Health

How Binaural Beats Can Make a Difference in Mental Health

You may want to have a nice sleep but are not in the right state of mind to do so from anxiety. In order to do so, you need to quiet your mind and be in a state of peace. Binaural beats can help your brain respond to sound to move you to a deep relaxation which can help you get better sleep.

Binaural Beats

Binaural beats are when you combine two different sound frequencies to create a new frequency tone. It is said that when you experience two different sound frequencies with one in each ear, the brain perceives it as one tone. If your left ear gets a 300-hertz tone and your right ear gets a 280-hertz tone, your brain will think of this as a 10-hertz tone which is a low-frequency sound that you cannot hear. Being exposed to these binaural beats can create low-frequency sounds to slow down brain activity to help you sleep better.

Four Types of Brainwaves

There are four different types of brainwaves that determine our state of consciousness, emotion, and mental state. Beta waves are where we are the most alert. This helps us focus, concentrate, make decisions, and be analytical thinkers. These waves are fast with high frequencies between 10-15 hertz which are associated with anxiety. Alpha brainwaves are when you are alert but still relaxed. With hertz between 9-14, alpha waves are associated with meditation and to be creative. 

Theta waves are associated with deep relaxation and non-REM sleep. They are of lower frequency between 5-10 hertz in the state where we feel we are drifting in and out of sleep. Delta waves are slow frequency waves of 1.5-4 hertz that dominate deep sleep. Being exposed to binaural beats can influence brainwaves that achieve slower frequencies that put you in deep relaxation.

Improving Sleep

Being exposed to binaural beats can change three hormones that are associated with sleep. One hormone is DHEA which strengthens your immune system and fights disease. DHEA suppresses cortisol which stimulates alertness and provokes stress. Binaural beats help with cortisol production in that this hormone at high levels normally causes insomnia. Melatonin levels tend to rise dramatically in the evening by relaxing your body and mind to fall asleep. Listening to binaural beats will strengthen the hormones that make you relax and help you fall asleep more easily. 

Relieves Anxiety

One study showed how binaural beats can help beat anxiety. The study showed how binaural beats had an effect on those who felt anxiety going through surgery. For six months, patients would spend half an hour listening to binaural beats on the day of their surgery. Compared to those who listened to music without binaural beats and those who listened to no beats at all, the ones listening to binaural beats had greater decreases in anxiety levels. Another study showed how binaural beats helped reduce the anxiety and blood pressure levels of those about to undergo cataract surgery.   

Increases Meditation

In order to get into a meditative state, you have to calm the posterior cingulate cortex which is known as the non-focused state. When you listen to binaural beats, it accomplishes the job of calming that part of the brain. It enhances the other part of the brain that easily brings you to a flow state. Using binaural beats will give you the same effects of meditation but done much faster.

How to Use Binaural Beats

All you need to have with you is binaural beat audio and a pair of headphones or earplugs. You can find online audio files of binaural beats music on YouTube or Spotify. There are also CDs you can purchase that you can download to your phone or MP3 player. In order for binaural beats to work, the two tones have to have frequencies of less than 1000 hertz with the difference not being more than 30 hertz. Look for beats based on which soundwaves you are trying to influence. Find a comfortable place to listen free of distraction and listen for half an hour every day to make sure that the rhythm is synched in your brain. How much you listen to all depends on your mental health symptoms. For example, those experiencing high anxiety symptoms can try listening for an hour to binaural beats or longer. You can also try closing your eyes to avoid any distractions. 

Binaural Beats Versus Meditation

While meditation is a good practice to help yourself be calm and live in the moment, you may want to use binaural beats to achieve a faster effect. Meditation can provide a lot of obstacles like having trouble focusing or taking too long to achieve the desired effect. Binaural beats are simple in that you put on your headphones, relax, and listen.

Side Effects of Binaural Beats

There are no known side effects other than making sure that the volume in your headphones is not too high to hurt your ears. Listening to these sounds at or above 85 decibels, which can equate to heavy traffic, can cause hearing loss over time. If you have epilepsy, it is best to speak to your doctor before trying it. If you are having trouble sleeping or need to quiet your mind of anxious thoughts, binaural beats are the way to go in order to teach your brainwaves to calm down which in turn will make you calm enough to sleep.

Located on the shore of Southern New Jersey, Enlightened Solutions is a recovery center that uses evidence-based therapies and holistic healing to treat addiction and mental illness. With the opportunity to learn about therapies that are keyed in to healing the human spirit and learning about new stress-reducing techniques centered around a 12 step network, you will ensure a lasting recovery. For more information, please call us at 833-801-LIVE as we are open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.


art therapy

Sleep And Mental Health: There’s More To The Relationship

Sleep is a vital part of the recovery process. Rest is essential for the body, mind, and spirit to heal effectively. Without rest, clients run the risk of exhaustion and fatigue which can interfere with their ability to receive the information, participate ing groups, and make the most out of their treatment experience. Getting enough sleep is a practice which begins in early recovery and and must be carried out regularly throughout one’s lifetime for ongoing recovery.

Not getting enough sleep, struggling with restlessness, and even having to cope with night terrors or nightmares can be symptoms of poor mental health. Likewise, poor mental health can be caused by a lack of sleep. Anyone who has gone days on end with poor sleep feels the effect of mental and physical exhaustion symptomized by moodiness, irritability, and general discontent. For the addict or alcoholic in recovery this can have a devastating effect.

Huffington Post reports that sleep and mental health are intimately connected. “Nearly one in five Americans suffers from some kind of mental illness,” the website cites from the NIMH, National Institute of Mental Health. “Even more surprising, a whopping 50 to 80 percent of people living with typical psychiatric illnesses also report chronic sleep problems, compared to less than 20 percent of the general population.”

According to the article, post traumatic stress disorder, bipolar disorder, depression, and anxiety can all interfere with sleep. In contrast, depression and anxiety can be triggered by a lack of sleep.

In early recovery treatment days, your loved one will likely be prescribed a sleep additive which is either pharmaceutical or natural. Non-narcotic sleep medications can be used to help reset the sleep cycle and make sure each client is getting enough rest. Natural remedies like melatonin, tryptophan, and/or valerian root could be used as well. Many other practices can contribute to better sleep, such as:

      • Limiting the use of social media before bed time
      • Limiting the use of technological devices before bed time
      • Not taking a nap after 4p.m.
      • Cutting off intake of caffeine or high amounts of sugar after 5p.m.
      • Practicing mindfulness meditation before bed

Balance, health, and wellness are invaluable components of recovery. At Enlightened solutions, we provide integrative partial care programs for addiction and dual diagnosis mental health issues. Bringing together twelve step philosophy, clinically proven care, and spiritual holistic healing, we strive to help clients start their recovery the right way. For more information, call 833-801-5483.


5 Things You’re Doing Wrong With Your Sleep

5 Things You’re Doing Wrong With Your Sleep

Sleep is essential to healing. When you are recovering from drug and alcohol addiction, it is critical to get a deep sleep every night for at least 6-8 hours. Some doctors believe that 8-10 hours is better for recovery. During sleep your body and your mind are healing. Sleep is a time for the body to rejuvenate and mend itself back together. In the brain, all of the information from the day is being sorted out and organized. Addiction and alcoholism are disease of the mind, the body, and the spirit. Sleep has a great influence on spirit as well. Without a good night sleep during treatment, you will be less focused, less aware, less present, and likely very cranky. Enduring ongoing symptoms of withdrawal requires you to have energy and endurance, a great deal of which can be sourced from sleep.

  1. Your room is chronically messy: Most treatment centers with residential living, or sober livings where you stay while attending a partial care program, will ask you to keep your room clean and make your bed. This is for a few reasons. First, they are likely to conduct tours for other clients. Second, it is a good practice in discipline to keep your room clean and make your bed every day. Third, having an organized room helps maintain a calm energy in your room. If you go to sleep with a messy room, you’ll likely sleep without the deepness you need to be fully rested.
  2. Your sleeping environment has too much light: Some people like to sleep with the lights on. Others feel that they need total darkness. Certain kinds of light can be stimulating to the brain. Though you might sleep, you won’t be getting the deep states of sleep that you need.
  3. You eat a lot of sweets before bed: Sugar is a stimulant that not only keeps the brain awake, but causes cravings and dehydration. Though you might fall asleep after a bowl of ice cream, you’ll wake up in the night to drink some water, or you might have restless sleep. Try to drink a calming herbal tea before bed or have some sugar free dark chocolate, which will help your body digest and detoxify through the night.
  4. You are using your phone while in bed before going to sleep: Social media, email checking, and engaging with various apps on your phone all stimulate the brain in different ways. What is most problematic about using your phone during the time you are trying to fall asleep is the blue light. Ideally, you should put down your phone at least an hour before your bedtime to help your brain destimulate and prepare for rest.
  5. You don’t help yourself sleep: There are many luxuries for sleep which are actually helpful. Ear plugs, eye masks, weighted blankets, aromatherapy, sound machines- all of these small luxuries can greatly enhance your night’s sleep. Try investing in some of these items and your payoff will be ten times the reward.

Enlightened Solutions takes a holistic approach to addiction treatment by bringing together various disciplines to create an effective program for mind, body, and spirit. For more information on our partial care programs, call 833-801-5483 today.


7 Ways To Amp Up Your Adult Self-Care Game

Protect Your Feet

Our feet are pretty important. They get us to where we need to go, help us do fun things, and support our entire body. Fashionable footwear can be fun, but we need to start thinking holistically in recovery. Treat your feet to something sweet with footwear that is both good looking and good for your body. Supporting your body, literally, from the floor up is a way to help save your back in the future.

Get More Sleep

Sleep is a critical necessity in life and in recovery. On average, you should be getting 6-8 hours of sleep, though some researchers suggest that 10 hours of sleep would be the most efficient. Follow good sleep routines like staying off your phone, meditating, and going to bed at an appropriate time. Never say no to naps, but learn how to nap effectively: 20 minute power naps can reboot the brain while 90 minute naps can enhance productivity and creativity.

Be A Better Driver

How many times did you drive intoxicated and put others at risk? Driving each day is an opportunity to make a living amends for times we were more reckless and dangerous to others. Practice safe driving, don’t use your phone, and give yourself ample time to get to where you’re going so you don’t rush. Enjoy your driving time with books on audio or your favorite music.

Clean Your Room And Your House

Your messy days are over. It’s true, you’ll have days when a clean room is the least of your worries. A cluttered space equals a cluttered mind. Having material goods is a gift of recovery, so they should be well taken care of. In addition, you’re working hard to restore your immune system and your health. A clean home and living space reduces hidden toxins and germs which can cause illness.

Take Care Of Sexual Health

Sex and sexuality is not a common topic of recovery. Alcoholism and addiction can cause reckless sexual impulsivity. Taking good care of sexual health is part of being a grown person in recovery. Make regular appointments with doctors and take care yourself.

Cook Real Food

Learning how to cook is a benefit of recovery. When all we think about is our substances, we are less than inclined to take good care of ourselves. In the beginning of recovery it can be easy to opt for easy food options to at least eat. Later on, its essential to start practicing habits for a healthy diet. One of thebest ways to do that is to cook at home.

Enlightened Solutions aims to help men and women learn how to live life again through supportive twelve step based recovery fused with holistic and alternative healing. For more information, call 833-801-5483.


Can’t Sleep? Eat (And Don’t Eat) These Foods

“I’m going to sleep so good tonight,” we grunt and groan, rubbing our bellies and slowly sliding further into our seats. A good meal at the end of the day is comforting. Eating just enough, perhaps too much, or having the exact food we have been craving all day puts us at ease.

Then, something happens. We’re wide awake. The promise of of an epicurean induced slumber slides away as we did earlier in our dinner table seats. Our stomachs might be grumbling, our insides might be burning, and most certainly our minds are wide awake.

Food is fuel. What we put into our bodies affects our energy and our minds in addition to our digestive systems. We know that there are herbal teas like chamomile and lavender to help us go to sleep. Certainly turkey and foods containing tryptophan and melatonin cause an easy transition into sleep land. Did you know there are other foods which will help you sleep or keep you wide awake?

 

Foods To Sleep

  • Complex Carbs: there’s little doubt that a big bowl of pasta can tucker one out for the night. Rather than eating simple starches or bleached starches, opt for grains and wheat. Complex carbs take longer to digest, allowing you to fall asleep while your body does the work.
  • Fatty Fishes: Fish like salmon and tuna which can have a high fat count are great sleepy time foods. Both fish contain tryptophan and vitamins to help your body naturally produce melatonin
  • Leafy Greens: spinach, kale, and chard, all have calcium. Combining calcium rich foods with tryptophan rich foods is an extra boost for producing melatonin.
  • Simple Fruits: Fruits with high fiber and sweet taste will satisfy your late night sugar cravings without the negative consequences.  

 

Foods Not To Sleep

  • Fried Foods: eating a deep fried meal can certainly make you feel lethargic, but it probably won’t help you sleep. Salty, fatty, fried foods are going to cause bloating and gas. It will be hard to find a comfortable position, breathe deeply, and sleep soundly.
  • Sugary Sweet Desserts: nothing tops a rich meal like a sweet dessert. Sugar is a stimulant, yet we often choose dessert as the last meal of the night. Too much sugar after dinner can wake your body up even worse, as you stay up all night from the sugar high, you’ll eventually experience a sugar crash- usually right in time to wake up and start your day, exhausted.

 

Enlightened Solutions emphasizes the importance of a holistic and balanced diet. As part of our treatment programs we offer nutritional guidance, educational courses on food and eating, as well as cooking classes. For more information on our programs for substance use disorders and co-occurring mental health disorders, call 833-801-5483 today.


Are You Having Nightmares? ​These Could Be The Reasons Why

Dreams are the brain’s way of making sense of the day. Our brains are like supercomputers, computing, analyzing, and storing thousands of pieces of information each day. Sometimes, there are bits that fall under the radar. Dreams help the brain process what is left over. Interpreting dreams is an ancient practice. Some people read very heavily into their dreams as if each night’s internal cinema were a prophecy coming from the subconscious. Others can hardly connect to their dreams and give them little attention when they occur. Everybody dreams, whether they can remember them, or care about them, or not.

 
Nightmares are the horrific kinds of dreams. Violent dreams can wake us up in the middle of the night, hearts pounding, minds full of anxiety. In early recovery, during treatment, withdrawing from drugs and alcohol can cause nightmares. We might experience episodes of PTSD in our sleep as our brain tries to process events from the past. Almost everyone in recovery experiences “using dreams” throughout their sobriety, especially in the first year. A using dream is when one knowingly, or unknowingly, uses a substance, comprising their sobriety. Being in treatment especially triggers these dreams as the mind has an ongoing subconscious narrative focusing on staying sober. 

Sometimes these dreams can be violent. If you're using used to take place in violent environments or were associated with violent environments, dreams about using can turn violent. However, our past is not the only thing which dictates violence in nightmares. New research revealed that what you think about and what kind of media you consume within 90 minutes of bedtime has a great effect on what kind of dreams you have.

Media consumption can affect how often you dream as well as what you are dreaming about. If you are laying in bed scrolling through old pictures of partying, drinking, and using, it wouldn’t be unlikely for you to have a using dream. According to Bustle, people who consume media of the violent kind within 90 minutes of going to bed were 13 times more likely to have violent dreams.

Cut off your media consumption at least one hour before bedtime. Making a gratitude list, praying, and meditating before bed can help set your mind in a positive place. Drinking a calming tea and journaling will help your mind be at ease as well.

Enlightened Solutions has the answer to the question of how to treat drug and alcohol addiction. By using tested 12 step philosophy with modern holistic treatments, we provide an integrative approach to healing. We want you to start your new life with us. Call us today at 833-801-5483.


The Best Part Of Waking Up

It isn’t always easy to wake up to another day. When we are in the throes of withdrawals, experiencing something difficult in treatment, or going through a bout of depression, a new day isn’t exciting. We quickly forget to count our blessings. Another morning of waking up means another day alive and a new chance for living.

Waking Up With Your Alarm Clock!

The snooze button is an illusion. Yes, it is there, and yes, it feels good to hit it a few times or dozen, but it actually doesn’t help you get any more sleep. In fact, it can make you even more tired. Set your alarm clock earlier by 5 minutes each morning. Avoid hitting snooze by setting your clock on the other side of the room.

Meditating When You Wake Up!

Our brains go in three directions upon waking: thinking everything, thinking nothing, and probably thinking about having to go to the bathroom. Studies have shown that letting your brain buzz, getting lost in scrolling through your social media news feed, or sitting in bed swimming in thoughts, is bad for productivity. Choose instead a mindful and meditative practice for the morning. Try to stretch each of your limbs for fifteen seconds to get the blood flowing.

Cooking and Eating Breakfast!

Some people claim to just not be breakfast people. Most nutritious studies assert that breakfast is the most important meal of the day because it gives your brain its first boost of energy. One of the best meals you can make for breakfast to support mental health is eggs with avocado along with a whole grain like whole wheat toast or brown rice and quinoa.

Drinking A Glass of Water Or Juice!

After anywhere between 6-10 hours of sleep your body is aching for something to drink. Downing a full eight ounces of liquid early in the morning helps set your metabolism and replenish your body. Take that first thing in the morning bathroom trip, then follow it up with a nice refreshing glass.

Enlightened Solutions is committed to helping you and your loved one discover a new way of life. Our program is about holistic lifestyle healing in addition to treatment. For more information on our certified dual diagnosis programs, call 833-801-5483.